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Patriot Spotlight: The University of Texas at Tyler Graduate Art Student Connects with ‘Bridge’

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March 3, 2017

Media Contact:  Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler
903.565.5769 or 903.539.7196 (cell)

Gifford working on piece

A graduate art student at The University of Texas at Tyler will commemorate her educational journey while working with younger artists in a collaborative project at her former elementary school.

Joanna K. Gifford of Tyler will install the first half of her latest piece, "Bridge," at Caldwell Arts Academy beginning today. "Bridge" is a two-part conceptual bridge that starts at the academy.

"I designed 'Bridge' specifically to commemorate my educational journey as an artist – from Caldwell to the master of arts/master of fine arts graduate program at The University of Texas at Tyler," said Gifford. "It's an honor to be invited to install this piece at Caldwell. I can't wait to work with these young artists."

Caldwell students will assist Gifford with the installation on their campus.

"Although the piece will be 6.5 feet high and 17 feet long, it will be made up of smaller components that the students and I will collaborate on," Gifford said. "I believe that working multi-generationally is vital to our individual and communal mental health. We inspire each other."


The bridge's other half will eventually end at The University of Texas at Tyler Fine Arts Complex, where it will descend from the sky down to the earth. Gifford hopes to complete the project by Fall 2017.

"The center of the bridge, between the two parts, is conceptual – a metaphor for the unknown journey from life event to life event," she added. "The journey may not be straight and we never know where life will take us, but it doesn't mean we are on the wrong path. We must be intentional and trust that our life is unfolding exactly as it should."

Gifford began her formal education at Caldwell, when it was called Caldwell Play School. She will graduate in December 2018 from The University of Texas at Tyler with a master of fine arts degree.

For more information, call The University of Texas at Tyler Department of Art and Art History, 903.566.7250 or contact gallery coordinator Michelle Taff, 903.566.7237 or mtaff@uttyler.edu.

Commemorating a Journey: Above, The University of Texas at Tyler graduate art student Joanna Gifford of Tyler works on her latest project, "Bridge," which commemorates her educational journey as an artist, from her beginnings at Caldwell Arts Academy, to graduate school at the university. She is working with Caldwell students on the first part of the piece, and she hopes to complete the collaborative project by this fall.

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